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Teen athletes suffer long-term effects of concussions

Maryland might change rules in attempt to prevent such injuries

September 19, 2012|By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun

Most private schools have full-time athletic trainers, Diggs said, and the MIAA encourages schools to do baseline testing that helps evaluate if a student has suffered a concussion.

Call for more education

Sharon Kennedy said parents need more educational materials; she got one sheet that outlined concussion symptoms. Such information is given to Maryland public school parents, but Kennedy says videos and other information could be distributed at Meet the Coaches nights and posted on school websites.

Some school systems are already taking those steps. Anne Arundel handed out 30,000 refrigerator magnets last year that list the signs of a concussion, said Greg LeGrand, coordinator of athletics in Anne Arundel County.

Schools have to be agile in a response, because sometimes students may need to stay out of school for days or only come to class for short periods, said Vaughan, the neuropsychologist.

"School plays such a vital role in supporting recovery," he said. "There are some that are incredibly supportive and have outstanding communication and policies in place and there are others where it is really a challenge to get support and get modification to a student's schedule."

As frightening as her experience was, Beth, who is attending Towson University this fall, is eager to return to playing in a league. She said, "I don't know who I would be if I didn't play ice hockey."

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

An earlier version of this article misstated that Beth Kennedy was playing for the Baltimore Youth Hockey Club when she was injured; she was playing for another team and league in a tournament sponsored by that club. In addition, coaches in the Baltimore Youth Hockey Club must be certified by USA Hockey, which includes a concussion component in its training.

Concussion symptoms

Headache or pressure in the head

Nausea or vomiting

Balance problems or dizziness

Double or blurry vision

Sensitivity to light or noise

Feeling sluggish, hazy or groggy

Confusion

Concentration or memory problems

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Steps being taken

Athletic groups across the country have taken steps to protect athletes from traumatic brain injuries:

•Ivy League universities have recently placed limits on contact practices in football, lacrosse and soccer. The NFL and the association for little league football have taken similar steps.

•The national governing body for youth football recently launched Heads Up Football, a resource for parents, coaches and players on concussions and related issues.

•The NFL and its partners have committed about $1 million to provide new helmets to youth football players in low-income communities.

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